You’ve heard that amateur radio operators provide help in the aftermath of tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires or other natural disasters. But have you considered incorporating ham radio into your prepping strategy?
Observe ham radio in action. It’s time this weekend for ham radio to put itself on display for the public in an annual event called Field Day. Every fourth weekend in June hams all across the country participate in this event.
No crisis is necessary for a han radio demonstration. Field Day takes place throughout the country.
According to the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League), Field Day is “…the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada.” Tens of thousands of ham radio operators gather with their radio clubs, friends or by themselves to operate as they would in case of emergency or disaster.
Some clubs treat Field Day as a contest to see how many stations they can contact. But it mostly offers the opportunity to practice emergency response capabilities.
Why do they call it “amateur radio?” It’s called that because operators don’t do what they do for commercial purposes, such as do the broadcast stations on AM and FM or TV. It is a hobby which has provided technological innovations over the last several decades.
Many ham radio operators serve their communities by being involved in public service activities. Ham radio often receives praise for the professional way in which operators handle crises, such as storms, earthquakes, etc.
Field Day exhibits the various modes of amateur radio. You’ll likely see operators talking by voice to other states and distant countries around the world–without the use of the Internet. You might see some ham operators still using Morse code. Various digital over-the-air modes are popular as well.
What sets this event apart is that participating stations function generally without electrical power from the grid. Each club handles Field Day a little differently, but you can expect to see modern radio equipment powered by generators, batteries, or even solar power. Many clubs set up a kind of survival radio camp for the weekend to operate in what you might call survival mode.
Morse code is still with us. Using code may sound old fashioned, and you don’t have to know it to get a ham radio license, as in times past. But hams will tell you code cuts through static and fading better than voice transmissions. Plenty of hams still do code. It’s not dead, in spite of all the newer technologies out there. In fact, you wouldn’t think it, but it’s growing in popularity. Lots of young people think it’s pretty cool.
Field Day shows off ham radio for all. Often radio clubs invite the media, elected officials and members of emergency response organizations served by ham radio.
The public is welcome, too. In fact, many clubs have a Get On The Air station, where non-hams can get on the radio with the help of a licensed operator. Click here to find a club engaged in Field Day activities near you.
Listen in. If you have a shortwave radio capable of picking up the ham bands, and you can listen in single sideband mode (SSB), you can eavesdrop in on Field Day communications. Without SSB ham radio talk will sound like Donald Duck with a mouth full of Oreos.
Why not now? There’s no better time than the upcoming Field Day event to find out for yourself whether ham radio should be part of your family’s survival communications plan. Getting a ham radio license is easier than ever.
Besides, ham radio is fun.